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Observer

Observer in C#

Observer is a behavioral design pattern that allows one objects to notify other objects about changes in their state.

The Observer pattern provides a way to subscribe and unsubscribe to and from these events for any object that implements a subscriber interface.

Learn more about Observer

Usage of the pattern in C#

Complexity:

Popularity:

Usage examples: The Observer pattern is pretty common in C# code, especially in the GUI components. It provides a way to react to events happening in other objects without coupling to their classes.

Identification: The pattern can be recognized by subscription methods, that store objects in a list and by calls to the update method issued to objects in that list.

Conceptual Example

This example illustrates the structure of the Observer design pattern. It focuses on answering these questions:

  • What classes does it consists of?
  • What roles do these classes play?
  • In what way the elements of the pattern are related?

Program.cs: Conceptual Example

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Threading;

namespace RefactoringGuru.DesignPatterns.Observer.Conceptual
{
    public interface IObserver
    {
        // Receive update from subject
        void Update(ISubject subject);
    }

    public interface ISubject
    {
        // Attach an observer to the subject.
        void Attach(IObserver observer);

        // Detach an observer from the subject.
        void Detach(IObserver observer);

        // Notify all observers about an event.
        void Notify();
    }

    // The Subject owns some important state and notifies observers when the
    // state changes.
    public class Subject : ISubject
    {
        // For the sake of simplicity, the Subject's state, essential to all
        // subscribers, is stored in this variable.
        public int State { get; set; } = -0;

        // List of subscribers. In real life, the list of subscribers can be
        // stored more comprehensively (categorized by event type, etc.).
        private List<IObserver> _observers = new List<IObserver>();

        // The subscription management methods.
        public void Attach(IObserver observer)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Subject: Attached an observer.");
            this._observers.Add(observer);
        }

        public void Detach(IObserver observer)
        {
            this._observers.Remove(observer);
            Console.WriteLine("Subject: Detached an observer.");
        }

        // Trigger an update in each subscriber.
        public void Notify()
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Subject: Notifying observers...");

            foreach (var observer in _observers)
            {
                observer.Update(this);
            }
        }

        // Usually, the subscription logic is only a fraction of what a Subject
        // can really do. Subjects commonly hold some important business logic,
        // that triggers a notification method whenever something important is
        // about to happen (or after it).
        public void SomeBusinessLogic()
        {
            Console.WriteLine("\nSubject: I'm doing something important.");
            this.State = new Random().Next(0, 10);

            Thread.Sleep(15);

            Console.WriteLine("Subject: My state has just changed to: " + this.State);
            this.Notify();
        }
    }

    // Concrete Observers react to the updates issued by the Subject they had
    // been attached to.
    class ConcreteObserverA : IObserver
    {
        public void Update(ISubject subject)
        {            
            if ((subject as Subject).State < 3)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("ConcreteObserverA: Reacted to the event.");
            }
        }
    }

    class ConcreteObserverB : IObserver
    {
        public void Update(ISubject subject)
        {
            if ((subject as Subject).State == 0 || (subject as Subject).State >= 2)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("ConcreteObserverB: Reacted to the event.");
            }
        }
    }
    
    class Program
    {
        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            // The client code.
            var subject = new Subject();
            var observerA = new ConcreteObserverA();
            subject.Attach(observerA);

            var observerB = new ConcreteObserverB();
            subject.Attach(observerB);

            subject.SomeBusinessLogic();
            subject.SomeBusinessLogic();

            subject.Detach(observerB);

            subject.SomeBusinessLogic();
        }
    }
}

Output.txt: Execution result

Subject: Attached an observer.
Subject: Attached an observer.

Subject: I'm doing something important.
Subject: My state has just changed to: 2
Subject: Notifying observers...
ConcreteObserverA: Reacted to the event.
ConcreteObserverB: Reacted to the event.

Subject: I'm doing something important.
Subject: My state has just changed to: 1
Subject: Notifying observers...
ConcreteObserverA: Reacted to the event.
Subject: Detached an observer.

Subject: I'm doing something important.
Subject: My state has just changed to: 5
Subject: Notifying observers...

Observer in Other Languages

Observer in Java Observer in PHP Observer in Python Observer in Ruby Observer in Swift Observer in TypeScript